The Association to Preserve Cape Cod appealed to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Monday to take action in opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s repeal of regulations that would reduce the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The repeal of the Clean Power Plan, one of the major hallmarks of the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, was announced by the EPA on June 19 and published in the Federal Register on Monday.
The EPA has replaced the regulatory requirements of the Clean Power Plan with the new Affordable Clean Energy rule, which essentially reinterprets how the EPA regulates emissions and largely relinquishes the EPA’s role, giving states the authority whether to regulate emissions levels for power plants within their borders. Electric-generating power plants fired by fossil fuels are responsible for 31 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.—the single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the nation.
In its letter to the attorney general, APCC stated that the EPA shirked its responsibility to regulate and reduce carbon emissions that are fueling climate change, which has direct consequences for Massachusetts, and particularly for Cape Cod communities that are already experiencing climate change impacts such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and an increase in the number and severity of coastal storms.
APCC also pointed to the EPA’s own internal analysis of the health effects of the now-repealed Clean Power Plan and the Affordable Clean Energy rule.
The EPA concluded in 2015 that the Clean Power Plan would prevent 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, up to 1,700 heart attacks, 1,700 hospital admissions and 300,000 missed workdays each year due to reductions in particulate pollution.
The EPA estimates the Affordable Clean Energy rule would be responsible for the deaths of an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of anticipated increases in emissions from coal-fired power plants under the new rule.
“The reversal in the EPA’s policies on regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants is a continuation of this current administration’s attempt to prop up the coal industry at the expense of the environment and public health,” said Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist.
The following is the text of APCC’s letter to Attorney General Healey.
July 8, 2019
The Honorable Maura Healey
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
RE: The Trump Administration’s American Clean Energy (ACE) Rule
Dear Attorney General Healey:
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) writes to respectfully urge you to use all the resources of your office to vigorously oppose the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and its replacement with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.
Established in 1968, APCC is the Cape Cod region’s leading nonprofit environmental advocacy and education organization, working for the adoption of laws, policies and programs that protect and enhance Cape Cod’s natural resources and quality of life. With ever-increasing urgency, much of APCC’s efforts in recent years have been focused on the need to address climate change and its impacts on Cape Cod. As you know, climate change has emerged as the greatest threat facing the Commonwealth’s natural resources, economy and human population. Cape Cod communities are especially vulnerable and are already experiencing worsening impacts from sea level rise, coastal erosion and an increase in frequency and severity of coastal storms associated with a changing climate.
Electrical power plants fired by fossil fuels are responsible for 31 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.—the single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the nation. Issuance of the CPP by the EPA in 2015, with its requirement for significant reductions in carbon dioxide pollution emissions from power plants, has been the most important step taken by the U.S. to address climate change. Continuation of the CPP rule would set our nation on the right track toward mitigating climate change and its impacts. Unfortunately, repealing the CPP and replacing it with the ACE rule reverses that forward progress.
The EPA policy decisions that led to the ACE rule and its abandonment of efforts to reduce carbon emissions will adversely affect Massachusetts’ environment and the welfare of its citizens as the impacts of our climate crisis increase. However, the ACE rule also endangers the health and safety of Massachusetts citizens by allowing an increase in other harmful pollutant emissions. In 2015, the EPA, looking to protect the public health, concluded that the CPP would prevent 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, up to 1,700 heart attacks, 1,700 hospital admissions and 300,000 missed workdays each year due to reductions in particulate pollution. In contrast, the EPA’s own regulatory analysis estimates their new proposed ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of continued coal-fired power plant emissions. Despite the leading role Massachusetts has taken in promoting renewable energy production to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to also clean our air, the residents of the Commonwealth are still at risk from these coal-fired plant emissions in upwind states.
The EPA has a legal obligation to protect the nation’s environment and the health of its citizens, a responsibility entrusted to the agency since its establishment in 1970 and reaffirmed under the Clean Air Act. Yet perversely, the underlying intent of the EPA’s ACE rule is to prop up the coal industry by extending the life of dirty coal-fired plants at the expense of the environment and public health. This is completely unacceptable.
In these unusual times when we can no longer rely on federal agencies to protect the environment and public health and safety, we must rely on our state Attorney General to take action to prevent the promulgation of federal agency rules that will increase pollution, exacerbate our climate crisis, and impact the environment and health of the citizens of Massachusetts. On behalf of our 3,000 members, APCC respectfully requests that you protect the welfare of our Commonwealth’s citizens and natural resources by moving to oppose the ACE rule.
cc: Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Edward Markey
Representative William Keating
Governor Charlie Baker
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides
DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg